Monday, December 15, 2008

Early Moraine: The New Edgemont

The Moraine story really begins in Edgemont.

During the 19th century Edgemont was one of Dayton’s zones of industrial expansion. The Short Line (later Big Four and New York Central) cut through the neighborhood in the early 1870s, and industrial development followed starting in the 1880s.

Development pretty much followed the railroad south, with factories lining the railroad and housing plats on either side. By the early 1900s development was approaching the bottom reach of the long bend of the Great Miami, which formed a natural barrier.

One of the last developments (1907) was by the Edgemont Real Estate Company , controlled by the Estate of Adam Schantz



This subdivision is probably the forerunner of Moraine as it appears to have been planned as a mix of large lot industrial sites and town lots for residential development, as sort of a very basic, diagrammatic “planned community”
The Estate of Adam Schantz

Estate in the sense of inheritance. AdaLinkm Schantz Sr was one of those 19th century self made men, an immigrant success story. Schantz immigrated from Hesse when young (from the area between Hanau and Fulda, from the same region as the Brothers Grimm), learned the butchers trade and later went into brewing and other business activity. DDN columnist Roz Young did a good article on him available here: A Generous Man.

After his death his holdings took the legal form of the “Estate of Adam Schantz”, pretty much run by his son Adam Schantz Jr.

It was this Adam Schantz who was the president of the Edgemont Real Estate Company, who platted Schantz Park in Oakwood, and who lived in this delightful heimatstil mansion:



(which looks like it could have been plucked right out of a villa district in Wilhelmine Germany)

And it was this Adam Schantz who founded Moraine.

Moraine Industrial Village

One can picture Adam Schantz plotting his next real estate move. The logical approach was to follow the Big Four south across the Great Miami for another mixed industrial/residential plat. But in the era before widespread auto ownership the site directly across the river had no public transit.

But another site further out was more promising. The interurban line (which went under various names, during this time as the Ohio Electric) was following a southwest trajectory out of Dayton, paralleling the old Cincinnati Pike. It came closer and closer to the Big Four until crossing the steam road at a spot named “Dwyer”, meaning the traction line could provide commuter access into Dayton while still being within walking distance to potential industrial sites served by the Big Four.

This was might be why Moraine was located where it was. But this is also speculation unless there is some correspondence or diary or journal where Adam Schantz and his associates give the reasons for the site.

This might be available in an unlikely place: The Olmstead archives. Schantz had partnered with two other local notables, Deeds and Patterson, to acquire and develop the property, dba The Moraine Development Company. The development company hired the Olmstead firm to design a model industrial village on the property. The idea for the model community apparently came from Schantz; if Moraine was to be an extension of Edgemont it was going to be a much improved version.

And apparently the correspondence (and maybe even drawings) are on file at the Library of Congress and the Olmstead historic site in Brookline, Mass.

For anyone interested in architectural and even social history this is a tantalizing question, are there unexecuted plans for a model industrial community by the leading landscape architecture firm in the US at that time, for a site near Dayton? And if so what do they look like?

Making Moraine Real


Accounts say that Schantz started to acquire property for Moraine between 1908 and 1911, with purchases extending into 1916, but the Schantz Estate files at the WSU archives give 1903 for an early holding in Van Buren Twp. The following map shows Schantz acquisitions in 1908 or later, plus the holdings of other associates in the future Moraine Development Company. The interurban also had landholdings in the area for a car barn and power station. Berkeley Heights was the southernmost subdivision on the interurban at that time.

The map has some labels of modern road names for orientation.

By 1920 Moraine Development Company holdings had expanded to cover a sizeable amoung of the flatlands between the river and the hill country east of Cincinnati Pike, south of what is now Dorothy Lane. What’s also interesting is the Deeds holdings in this area, extending as far south as Rahn and Alex-Bell Roads, deep into what became postwar suburbia.

For whatever reason the model industrial suburb concept was not pursued after WWI. By the time of this map Moraine was starting to be subdivided and one starts to see the modern form of the place emerge. These early modern platting decisions superseded the old 19th century property lines and road alignments (note Springboro Pike "in the way" of the industrial tracts).

In this map, in yellow, are the first Moraine Development Company plats. Very large industrial tracts (compared to what we’ve seen in Edgemont), and the first “Moraine City” town lot plat.

The interurban company (renamed Cinicinnati & Dayton RR) property is shown in blue, and a small non-Moraine plat (the “Slanker Plat” in orange). Speaking of the interurban, the line looks wrong on this map as in subsequent maps and aerial photos it ran through the Moraine City plat more to the south. Maybe the map is in error or the line was relocated?

The first industrial development, including the ancestor factory to Moraine Assembly, was on tracts C and D. We’ll take a look at that in the next post.

(as in all posts, if one wants to see an enlargement of a map or image, mouse over and click on it).

4 comments:

metromark said...

Jeffrey--The house on the corner of Schantz and Oakwood Ave. looks very similar to the Schantz mansion you depict (only in an urban rather than a rural setting and without the landscaping). Is this the home of Adam Schantz or is it just a similar style?

Jefferey said...

I don't know that house. It might be as the Roz Young article I linked to talks about Adam Schantz living on Schantz Avenue.

The first Adam Schantz lived in Grafton Hill, where they are proposing to build that high rise apartment building. His brewrey was across the street, right on the river.

kevin said...

Mark, that is the same property on that postcard that still stands today at the location of Oakwood Ave (Brown) and Schantz you refer to.

Anonymous said...

I'll confirm what Kevin said---the house on the SW corner of Oakwood Ave. and Schantz is definitely the same Schantz house as is shown in the postcard---it was for sale about 15 years ago, and my wife and I toured it then.

Dave N.